How Do You Know if You Have a Marketing Problem or a Business Problem?

Has business gone quiet? Leads gone cold?

Are you sick of seeing prospects hire your competitors instead of you?

Time to start pumping money into a marketing campaign, right? It'll attract more people to your business, and they'll hire you no problem!

Well, maybe. If people don't know your company exists, then yes, promoting your company and raising some brand awareness is great.

But what if it isn't your marketing that's stopping people from hiring you? I mean, how do you know if you have a business problem or a marketing problem?

If you're already investing in marketing but not seeing an improvement in sales figures, you might have a problem within the business.

A business problem can’t be fixed with more marketing.

If your message isn't connecting with the intended audience, saying it louder isn't going to help. Changing tactics or ramping up your marketing without reviewing the underlying problem is about as useful as putting lipstick on a pig. You can't dress up something that isn't delivering what your prospects need to hear in order to pay attention.

Making cosmetic changes to something that fundamentally isn't working and doesn't meet the client's needs is a waste of time, money and effort.

If your marketing efforts make your business look like something it isn't, you might see a short-term increase in clients – with a sharp decline in repeat custom.

To get the most out of marketing, it needs to promote the business you have for what it is – not what you wish it were.

But we're getting ahead of ourselves. Before you spend any of your hard-earned dollars, you want to identify what the problem is (Business? Marketing? Both?) before you decide to implement a plan to fix it and hire the necessary people for your business.

So, Do You Have A Business or Marketing Issue?

Figuring out whether your problem is an issue related to marketing or business requires a certain amount of research on your part.

First, it's time to delve into the core of your business and what's happening right now.

It’s time for a SWOT analysis. 

An incredibly important part of your SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) analysis is hearing from employees and customers alike. You can do this by:

  • Sending out surveys
  • Asking customers for feedback in person
  • Asking customers to leave a review with any suggestions or comments about your product/service after they’ve bought
  • Checking for customer/employee complaints on social media and review sites

You can also gather information by asking your team to help you pinpoint any problems or key issues they have noticed with your business. They might point out problems with the marketing strategy or with the service or product you provide.

Your finished SWOT chart will show where you're excelling and where you're falling behind.

Next, it’s time to figure out if you have a marketing problem or a business problem.  

The Difference Between Marketing Problems And Business Problems

It can be difficult to decide if you have a marketing problem and or an underlying problem in your business.

Looking at the message you are conveying via marketing – is your business, brand personality and marketing out of alignment? Does what you offer in your ads get delivered to your clients? Are you making promises you can't keep?

Advertising to get more people through the door will not solve your company's issues if you have a fundamental problem at the core of your business.

Just imagine: you decide you have a problem with your marketing, hire somebody to help fix it and then realize customers are leaving because your customer service sucks. Well, you've just wasted a lot of money trying to fix the wrong problem.

Before getting help, you should take some time to figure out what the real problems are holding your company back.

It could be something simple – like people have no idea what services you actually offer – or something a bit more complex – like the audience you're attracting are looking for rock bottom prices, not stand-out work.

“High performing brands don’t lower prices to meet customer demands; they find customers to meet their prices.”

As with everything in life, before you try to fix it, it’s better to know what you’re fixing.

Below are a few examples of marketing and business-related problems that will help you figure out what's what when it comes to fixing your business.

Examples of Marketing Problems:

  • You don’t have a marketing strategy or have an outdated marketing strategy
  • Your attracting the wrong kind of prospects
  • You are trying to be everything to everyone with a broad message
  • You’re trying to advertise on every platform available
  • Your marketing ROI is too low
  • Your marketing materials are low quality or outdated
  • Your target audience is far too broad and hard to reach
  • You’re not attracting enough traffic to your website
  • You have no reviews or testimonials from your customers
  • You’re struggling to keep up with marketing trends

Examples of Business Problems:

  • You aren't focused on what your client base wants, just what you want to sell them
  • What you do isn't obvious or it isn't very clear
  • Your leads aren’t converting into customers
  • You have unhappy customers – You have bad reviews online that outnumber positive reviews
  • Your offerings and/or buying process is confusing/convoluted
  • Your product or service doesn’t do what it’s intended to do
  • You don't understand your customers' needs, wants, and motivations
  • Your product/service is aimed at the wrong target audience
  • Your company isn’t solving your customer’s problems
  • Your standards aren’t matching those in your industry
  • You’re not delivering what your promise
  • Regulatory issues and newly established laws are impacting your operations
  • You have an inconsistent brand message that isn’t well-defined for your company
  • You are only competing on price and not offering your customers a USP (unique selling point)
  • What you’re offering is too similar to your competitors

While this isn't an exhaustive list, it should give you more of an idea of your company's underlying issues.

If you don't know what's wrong with your company in the first place, then you could be spending a lot of resources, time and money figuring out a solution to a problem that doesn't exist. You need to get to the heart of the problem.

We help companies just like yours figure out what’s really going on with their company. Our team goes beneath the surface and align our clients’ business with their brand and marketing. It’s what we do. Our goal is to build solid brand foundations for all of our clients in order to make sales easier and marketing more effective. Get those business and marketing problems off your plate completely – connect with us now.

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Tracy O’Shaughnessy Founder / Lead Brand Strategist of Branding & Beyond

Tracy and her team help firms in and around the B2B building trades look and sound credible online and off.

She has been in the industry since the early '90s and is tired of seeing fantastic firms struggle, blend in, and get bypassed by prospects who judge them solely on the outdated information found online.

Branding & Beyond's mission is to solve real business problems and build the brand foundation clients need to get noticed and hired.

You can find Tracy on Linkedin and here on this blog.